How was it to start your musical journey in Santiago?
In Santiago, I think a lot of influence from my brother was there – he was surrounded by this blossoming yet very small scene in the city, and he was frequenting from techno parties, to punk gigs with experimental electronic music. It was very eclectic. We were really exposed to new things that you would never find out about anywhere else, people you wouldn’t see all the time. Parties would end and you met people, then you’d never get to experience it ever again. There was a participatory consciousness, you knew if you went, things happened. People were more available in some ways, I think.
Did those early parties in Santiago shape your more “participation-led” ethos?
Exactly, there were more live sets too. Electronic, experimental pop, it’s crazy because nowadays there seems to be so many more people interested in DJing than in making music. What does that say about the craft? I’m not saying DJing isn’t amazing, it’s great. But there’s a commodification of it, even when there’s so much risk still in building a Latin American “club” culture (there aren’t many clubs really).
Have you noticed a marked difference between the Brazilian scene and the one you grew up with in Santiago?
Coming from Chile gave me the essence of what it meant for me to build up a lifelong relationship with music, there wasn’t anything else. The curiosity and the passion, the excitement of sharing things you would find with your peers. I think that’s what happens when things are smaller, when you’re the last person in the room you are taking in more, it’s a different flow of energy. It’s what you get when you go to parties that aren’t guaranteed to happen every month, you don’t know when the next one will be. If people don’t have the money, the party doesn’t happen.
Chile is almost at the end of the world, it’s behind the mountains and it’s so small compared to Brazil, way darker. Chileans have a way darker vibe, for many socio-political reasons. Whereas Brazilians, it’s hard to explain, it’s another vibe entirely, mainly because of the place, the body and partying have in life and how many “Brazils” exist within Brazil. And now living in Rio, well… Rio is the centre of the universe for me.
You’ve travelled a lot in the past few years, how has this impacted your process?
I think Santiago still has a huge impact on me unconsciously. I’ve played in all sorts of places in the past few years. Travelling gives you perspective. It’s crazy. To travel and have this trust from someone you don’t know, who books you and you arrive and there’s a crowd that you are being tasked with giving the best time you can. It’s very humbling. When I go to play in Europe I tend to have deep philosophical conversations with myself to prepare for that. Or when I go to Colombia, I’m trying to work out how to communicate with the crowd when we might be from totally different backgrounds, and yet so related in so many ways. This trust that DJs are being given in bringing music to people who are living their everyday lives, sometimes coming from a very open place of vulnerability to that party, it’s so interesting. I’m not sure I felt that kind of responsibility until I started to play to more mainstream audiences, because it’s easier to play to your arty/underground friends. The people who teach you the most are those who might not be as familiar with what you do.
Is that why you want to be so engaged with the events you take part in?
I’ve learnt to create and respect my own creative protocols as a DJ and as a producer. When I DJ, I like to arrive as early as I can to feel the night as a whole. I want to say hi to the staff, the promoter — I want to know who these people are. What is the crowd like? Is it a more femme crowd? Is it a queer party? What has everyone taken? Is everyone on cocaine? Is everyone high on mushrooms? I want to see if the sound is good, I want to befriend the sound guy – it is mostly a guy -. I want to meet the other artists and listen to them. I love relating to the promoters when I can and that’s why I don’t have an agent in Latin America, it doesn’t make sense to me. I love asking questions, understanding how things happen. You can get a request from some kids in Paraguay and they’ll book you a five star hotel which can be totally unnecessary for their event costs. If there’s someone who has a clean room and a bathroom and I’ll be able to sleep, I can sleep at someone’s place. If they ask me how much I charge, I’ll ask first who they’ve booked, how much they are charging for tickets, and all of those things an agent does, but it’s me so it feels different for everyone involved. Even with big bookings like foreign festivals and stuff, you’re forced to stand up for yourself and read the room. It grounds me and I learn a lot, all the time.
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Do you want to get a full grasp of what the room is like before you play to it?
Yeah, I want to get in tune with it. Also with my mind, with my attention. I am not trying to school the crowd with what I like. I think if you as a DJ, aren’t too fucked up, if you sleep better, if you related to your work during the week — you will arrive at the party more available and present, you won’t be as anxious. That is something I’ve learned from my interest in Zen Buddhism and Sufi teachings. I’ve felt that sometimes a sense of joyfulness in Europe is attached to naiveness. But you can be very professional, and it doesn’t have to be through a deeply serious attitude.
You’ve done a lot of work uplifting femme musicians in the Latin underground. Is this an important part of your ethos? How do you think the rest of the industry should work to support female/female-identifying artists?
Every time I see a woman in a high position in music, it’s like “Woah, I know she has done a major job to get there.” Things are getting better, of course, but honestly I think it’s not enough yet – it is still a boys club in so many ways. When you look at your stats on SoundCloud or Instagram you’ll see it’s mostly male/male-identifying people between 18-35 listening to you, so I think there’s still more to be done to reach out to women. It’s good to have a lot of women/female-identifying people/non-binary people who are creative and doing their thing because then you get better at communicating with each other too. It brings more people into it and the quality of the craft changes and grows.
Can you tell us a little about this mix?
You tell me 😉 I just chose some special and magnetic tracks from friends and strangers and blended them together on a sunny afternoon in Rio de Janeiro.
Megan Townsend is Mixmag’s Deputy Editor, follow her on Twitter
Davis Galvin ‘1125ambient_demo1’ (unreleased)
t-woc ‘Rooftop Chant’
Simisea ‘Simi See, Simi Do’
Fauna Extinta ‘IER’
DJ LHC ‘AUTOMATIC’
NA DJ ‘Mikel Loop Island’
Fortunato ‘Bloco Paralelo’
Significant Other ‘Cellar One’
Enayet ‘Phiriya’ (rrao Remix)
borderlandstate ‘Red Lines Have An End’
Katerina ‘July 6 – LBBB’ (Left Bundle Branch Block) 2022
Kstcn ‘Bad Habit’
DJ Vinicius Variações ‘Baile do Ricardo’
Sávio de Queiroz ‘Respiração da mata’
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Written by: Tim Hopkins